WORLD HEALTH DAY: Tufton says Ja moving closer to universal healthcare
Dr Christopher Tufton
As member countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO) across the face of the earth recognise World Health Day on Sunday, April 7, Jamaica’s Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has emphasised the island's positive move towards achieving universal healthcare, with help coming from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Tufton, in his message marking the day, indicated that Jamaica was one of the first countries to base the public health system on primary healthcare in keeping with the WHO Alma Ata Declaration, which has assisted the island's health authorities to be operating within international standards.
According to the 1978 World Health's Organisation Alma Ata Declaration, governments, health and development workers and the world community must protect and promote the health of all people of the world.
World Health Day is recognised by member countries of the WHO, and was incepted at the First Health Assembly in 1948, while taking effect in 1950. It is aimed at creating awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the WHO.
Tufton said: "The goal of the Jamaican perspective on primary healthcare was to ensure that all Jamaican citizens should be within 10 miles walking distance of a primary healthcare facility, and addressed the provision of healthcare based on community health problems in a defined population. Most importantly, it ensured community participation in the delivery of healthcare services.
"Currently, the country has stepped up its efforts, and has been implementing various measures and critical programmes and projects, which will bring us closer towards universal health," he added.
According to Tufton, work is in progress on the development of a policy proposal and road map for a National Health Insurance Plan for Jamaica. He said that proposal will address the benefits package, sources of the financing, and the applicable legal framework.
“This we believe will strengthen our cause and take us on a path of sustainable health financing mechanism for Jamaica," said Tufton.
He added that in moving towards universal access to health, as well as the island's Vision 2030 plan, the IDB is supporting a 10-year comprehensive strategic development plan for the local health sector.
Universal healthcare is a system that provides healthcare and financial protection to all residents of a particular country or region.
Tufton said, "this strategic plan will re-align the objectives of the health sector through a reform process. It will include continued efforts to renew primary healthcare, utilising the framework of Integrated Health Service Delivery Networks to create a robust health system based on primary care delivery.
"Jamaica has had a remarkable track record in the delivery of healthcare services. The Government of Jamaica remains focused on providing universal access to quality care for our population, and we firmly believe that by working together, we can improve health outcomes for all," the minister added.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) are the leading causes of death and a major public health burden in Jamaica. In the latest data, which is from 2015, an estimated seven out of 10 Jamaicans died from the four major NCDs. These are cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease.